Sustainable Design: What Does It Really Mean?

Sustainability has become a buzzword that is frequently thrown around. So what does it really mean to have a sustainable product or design?

Sustainable Design Principles:

  • Conserve resources
  • Reduce consumption of non-renewable energy
  • Provides the best possible use of interior and exterior spaces
  • Improve the comfort of spaces
  • Reduce negative impacts on the environment
  • Maintain usability for the longest possible duration-ideally indefinite

Let’s Break it Down Even More

Sustainability is a term used for environmental, social, and economical purposes. In other words, it encompasses just about everything. Sustainable design is therefore much more complicated than improving one aspect of a space or product. It is taking all of these principles and all of the necessary components of sustainability, and bringing it to one, fully functional space that is now more efficient, better for the environment, and more comfortable for occupants.

Sustainable Architecture

Maintaining aesthetic appeal while reducing negative impacts of materials and building structures while also improving the efficiency of the daily operations of a building is no simple task. As sustainable architecture becomes more commonplace, architects are expected to produce not only aesthetic masterpieces, functional spaces, and out-of-the-box thinking, but also do so in the most sustainable way possible. It is this demand that brings not only extreme challenges, but also great opportunities to those that can visualize such spaces, and execute that vision with precision.

Putting all of this together would not be possible without the entrepreneurial individuals in the world who are constantly innovating new ways to do just about anything. Developing products and processes that continuously make the world operate more efficiently and effectively is essential for the development of sustainable practices. Certain products allow architects to add new dimensions to design, while new processes and technology allow for instant communication that speeds up production times and reduces the time it takes to make the many inevitable changes on projects.


Does sustainable design inhibit a designer’s ability to maximize beauty and function? Some critics think so, and others think that sustainable design only creates more beauty and function. However, this argument is not necessary. Whether sustainable design is thought to inhibit design, or not, really does not matter. What matters is that beauty is seen differently by every individual. Simply, some will choose to implement sustainable design practices, and others will not see the need for it.


With the rising global population, increasing concern about environmental factors, over-consumption, environmental damage, loss of species, the depletion of natural resources, and much more, sustainability has risen to a top concern of a much larger population than in years past. In other words, the increasing trend in sustainable practices is a reaction to society’s concern for the future of the planet.

As the world continues to advance, and human populations continue to push consumption to or far beyond sustainable levels, sustainable design will become increasingly important and common. Design will adapt to accommodate the world’s needs and desires, and implement new techniques and technologies that have never been seen before.

Watch an awesome Ted Talk about sustainable design!